High-profile backers for £65m UK waste-to-energy start-up

Supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, The Duchy of Cornwall, the Rothschild family and various Middle Eastern and Asian investors are among those to have come together to provide £65m in finance for Tamar Energy, a UK start-up business that will develop a network of over 40 anaerobic digestion plants.

Tamar Energy, a new UK business focused on producing energy from organic waste matter, has been launched by a group of investors who are committing a combined £65 million (€77.0 million; $101.9 million).

The investment is led by RIT Capital Partners, an investment trust chaired by Lord Rothschild in which the Rothschild family has a significant holding, and Fajr Capital, a Dubai- and London-based firm whose backers include the Abu Dhabi Investment Council, the government of Brunei Darussalam, Khazanah Nasional Berhad (the investment arm of the government of Malaysia) and Saudi conglomerate Al Subeaei Group.

Other backers in a diverse and numerous investor group include: Sainsbury’s, the UK’s third-largest supermarket chain; the Duchy of Cornwall, the private estate which funds various activities undertaken by The Prince of Wales and his family; Lord Rothschild’s family interests; Sustainable Technology Investments and Low Carbon Limited, two renewable energy-focused investment firms; and the Tamar Energy management team.

As well as being an investor, Sainsbury’s is a strategic partner to Tamar Energy, “providing its expertise and experience as the UK’s leading retail user of anaerobic digestion”. 

A statement announcing the launch of the business says Tamar Energy is aiming to develop a network of more than 40 anaerobic digestion plants over the next five years in order to generate in excess of 100 megawatts of green electricity. It also revealed that Tamar Energy has acquired Adgen Energy which has an “advanced pipeline” of anaerobic digestion projects.   

The statement said Tamar Energy would aim to “lead the development” of the industry in the UK, which has only 1 percent of the number of anaerobic digestion plants in Germany. The technology involves converting organic waste into energy. Compared with alternatives, proponents of anaerobic digestion say it has a low visual impact, reduces waste that would otherwise be sent to landfill and provides green fertiliser for agriculture.

Tamar Energy’s management team is headed by executive chairman Alan Lovell, formerly chief executive of Infinis, which produces 10 percent of the UK’s renewable energy. He said: “The underdevelopment of anaerobic digestion in the UK is principally driven by a historical lack of financing for the sector. Tamar Energy will be well capitalised by investors, with a pure focus on producing energy from organic waste, rather than as an adjunct to a waste management business.”